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DVD review – Jojo Mayer’s Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer

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This is with out a doubt the finest guide to hand technique ever filmed and hence, shall be the standard to which all drum technique videos are held. It covers the entire spectrum of Jojo’s hand technique arsenal. From the absolute beginning (grips, fulcrum, hand position, matched and traditional grip, etc…) to the most advanced techniques that he uses in his playing (moller, drop bounce, push pull, etc…). Jojo explains the physical and anatomical aspects of each technique, and makes excellent use of slow motion and CGI effects, so you can see and truly grasp what you are seeing. He lays out exercises, trouble shoots problems, and explains the main points of his practicing philosophy. All of this makes learning the techniques, not only possible but surprisingly fast. Especially when compared to somebody just aimlessly practicing without a plan. Props to Jojo for doing all the heavy brain work for us.

The only thing he omitted that I wished he hadn’t was the buzz roll. There was a perfect opportunity to talk about it right after the section on performing double strokes but he jumps to grip switching. Maybe he figured it’s a natural extension of the double stroke roll which he did cover… to me though it’s different enough to be considered its own animal. Not a huge complaint but a complaint none the less. Other than that you will pretty much want for nothing as far as hand technique is concerned.

As far as production and extra content goes, the DvD is a step down from other Hudson Music DvD’s. Maybe this has to do with this DvD being produced by the limited branch of Hudson music, maybe it was to cut cost, I really don’t know. I noted that there seemed to be a lack of musical performances from Jojo in comparison to the other drum instructional from Hudson. There are a few short studio performances that are about 3 to 5 min in length and a bunch of bite sized (15 to 30 seconds) clips of Jojo playing random stuff around New York (I think it’s New York). The performances you do get are pretty good though so I won’t complain about that. I was severely disappointed in the lack of any extra content in a feature that spans two disks. No gear tours, no commentary track, no behind the scenes features, nothing. Well ok, there is the pdf with the transcriptions of Jojo’s exercises, but that’s kinda weak.

They also seem to dislike color over at Hudson Limited because most everything Is white, black, or some shade of grey… on second thought, it was probably Jojo’s idea. Anyways, the no-color color scheme is actually a plus when he demonstrates techniques because the snare head is black and his sticks have a white lacquer. The color contrast makes tracking the motions of the stick much easier, which is nice, but it was applied to EVERYTHING! Jojo’s outfit from head to toe, black. Jojo himself, very white, except for his hair which is jet black. The studio around him, grey. It can be kinda depressing, but hey, this video wasn’t designed to be a tour de force for your eyes.

Another thing worth noting is that because there aren’t single official terms for most of these techniques and their many variations, you may very well have seen or learned a technique that has the same or a similar name to one on the dvd. In addition, the way Jojo does it may be slightly or radically different from the way you perform it. My advice, don’t freak out. This DvD is an in-depth look at Jojo Mayer’s hand technique and his reasons for doing it his way. Not the definitive guide to the only and best way your hand technique should be at all times in all situations.

Last thing to note is that though this DvD is perfect for drummers of all skill levels, IT ONLY ENCOMPASSES HAND TECHNIQUE. If you are looking for anything else, you are looking in the wrong place.

I give it 4 stars out of 5. Jojo is a decent host and the musical performances you do get are pretty good but the almost total lack of special features (and color) hurts its total score.

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I’ve bought it and would buy it again. The information is invaluable, which is good, because that’s about all you get in this no frills feature.

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